Tuesday 3 May 2016

World of Interiors 7 (in Quotes)

The Times recently ran a whole spread on the “new snobbery”. Here’s a paraphrase.

a Buddha head from Homebase in your garden
scented candles that aren’t Diptyque
mirrored furniture
modular sofas
pot plants
unless they’re orchids
trailing plants indoors
“One of those disturbingly American professional family portraits
“Anything that is over-complicated, over-designed or oversized” – they’re all “intrinsically vulgar”
Overfinch Range Rovers (apparently the company adds luxury customisation to the utility vehicle)

Hilary Rose agrees that wide-screen TVs are “common”. Also scatter cushions, and giving your child crisps in public (has to be rice cakes).

Style guru Peter York says he’s going to get a wide-screen TV “whether it’s couth or uncouth”. But he’s tired of Scandinavian knock-off interiors. He has a good word for Eames chairs “They were meant for the masses”. Don’t be too immaculate, he admonishes, but avoid the opposite “exposed brick walls and bashed floors”.

Designer Sophie Rogerson regrets that surface-mounted sinks and mosaic tiles have gone downmarket “Now it’s about more characterful, artisanal styles” (what can she mean?). And avoid fake shagreen: “It’s one small step from generic to vulgar.” She doesn’t like “high-gloss” kitchens with “subway” tiles. (I think she means the ones that make your kitchen look like a prison or public lavatory.)

Like huge ringroad supermarkets, they often seek to disguise their warehouse proportions by affecting tiled roofs and little vernacular clocktowers, whispering reassuring messages about being 'in keeping' to dense middle-Englanders. (subtoptian.blogspot.co.uk)

They had smothered it with trumpery ornament and scrapbook art, with strange excrescences and bunchy draperies, with gimcracks that might have been keepsakes for maid-servants... There was in the elder lady’s [bedroom] a set of comic water-colors, a family joke by a family genius, and in the younger’s a souvenir from some centennial or other Exhibition, that they shudderingly alluded to. The house was perversely full of souvenirs of places even more ugly than itself and of things it would have been a pious duty to forget. The worst horror was the acres of varnish, something advertised and smelly, with which everything was smeared; it was Fleda Vetch’s conviction that the application of it, by their own hands and hilariously shoving each other, was the amusement of the Brigstocks on rainy days. (Henry James, The Spoils of Poynton describes two middle-class ladies visiting a nouveau riche family)

People aren’t buying ornaments as much as they were. (Christina Trevanion)

Rubbishing modern architecture is a default setting for much of the British bourgeoisie. (Jeremy Paxman)

You can immediately spot the newcomers’ houses. They are the ones who have done away with the turquoise striped curtains and hung up the rattan blinds instead. They have removed the fringed lampshades and put up Habitat fixtures. They have ripped out the neon-patterned carpet and polished up the wooden floorboards. They have painted the orange geometric wallpaper white. They have moved out the lime green Dralon armchairs and put in the bent cane. They have replaced the black Naugahyde sofa with a pine framed double convertible bed and the tin bath with a stainless steel sink... They have left enough room to walk round the tables and chairs rather than trip over them. (Hackney in the early 80s, Glenys Roberts, Metropolitan Myths. She goes on to say that the Hackney residents wait for the incomers to bring in the ”furry lilac pouffes, plastic chandeliers, maroon and gilded china knick-knacks” and paint the front door “the regulation savage purple, hot pink or chrome yellow”. Working-class décor has changed more in 25 years than the middle-class variety.)

Very rich people have panic rooms, according to the Times 28 March 2015. “There were vaults as well... with marble floors, sliding walls for paintings, a piano, wine storage and an area to relax in.”

There can be something absurd or even melancholy about the open-plan minipalaces some middle-class Britons consider essential for civilised living.
(Guardian Nov 2015-11-10)
Why do people put their pots [saucepans] on display, especially when they collect dust? (uglyhousephotos.com)

Hideous solidity was the characteristic of the Podsnap plate. Everything was made to look as heavy as it could, and to take up as much room as possible...
(Our Mutual Friend (The “plate”, is silver-plate – the knives and forks.)

Display domes are a massive trend – the silhouette and paper-cutting look is really on-trend. (House Gift
July 2012)

My sisters used to do that candle-in-a-wine-bottle wax dripping thing in the early 1970s.
(Ugly House Photos blog)

They all went into a room full of antimacassars and lunched off boiled mutton and caper sauce... She remembered suddenly the horsehair sofa and the antimacassars in the furnished rooms at Wiltsbury. (Giant’s Bread,
Agatha Christie, 1930. Antimacassars are embroidered linen cloths placed on the backs of chairs to protect their upholstery from the macassar oil in mens’ hair. They only disappeared from British Rail seating – reduced to strips of orange acrylic – around the 80s. Caper sauce is melted butter mixed with chopped capers.)

A teenager’s bedroom in the 30s: “They saw a looking-glass draped with clouds of pink... the meagre furniture was in white painted wood – plain, cheap stuff, but sound. It had tawdry decorations of drapery. On the walls were pinned a number of newspaper photographs of beauties, male and female – film stars, stars of society.” (
Clue for Mr Fortune by HC Bailey)

Her decorating mantra, “something pink, and something ugly, in every room”—riots of roses and hideous tooled leather covers for the Radio Times.
(Redeeming Features, Nicky Haslam)

I think the tiny windows might be the product of regulation. I hate them!... What's annoying about this sort of thing and the mock-Georgian of the 70s is that it shows such a poor eye. The architect seems to have had no sense of proportion and no real ability to look at the buildings whose style he is copying. But it can work well. "Post Office Georgian" is usually very good.

This sort of thing has got a following in Brighton and London. It’s very much a studenty sort of look.
(Bargain Hunt auctioneer discussing a purple cubist cocktail set)

Artex swirled across the ceilings as if it were a Cypriot taverna, embossed wallpaper peeled away from the dried-up paste hiding dodgy plaster, the nubs of the old gas mantels poked through the walls and the chimney breast still jutted out into the kitchen.
(Linda Grant in The Guardian on a Crouch End maisonette in the 90s. That’s gas “mantles”.)

It had front and back gardens with a swing, rose bushes, a rockery of glittery stone and alpine plants, a garage, and an outside coal-shed. A row of Toby jugs grinned and grimaced from an ornament rail in the hall.
(ditto on the Liverpool house she grew up in)

The room is an embarrassing mash-up of contemporary design clichés, from bare utilities to patches of brickwork exposed by “torn” plaster, folksy wooden dressers and “vintage” lampshades. (Giles Coren Times 2015-01-24)

 I saw what had been a simple bungalow and had been almost entirely rebuilt into something much bigger: a massive through kitchen (all granite surfaces and all the latest gizmos) to dining area (dining table with removable top revealing a working pool table) to TV area (with massive projection screen), small  nursery, small office, small bedroom, marble bathroom, master bedroom with big ensuite marble bathroom and dressing area, etc. – and then upstairs had a big bedroom, two small bedrooms, another bathroom, and a large low-ceilinged area for storage or playing with trains. Also a double-garage which had been turned into a very comfortable workshop, complete with electricity, water, and gas, also with an upstairs suitable for the biggest train set you've ever seen. And throughout, every room had the latest gadgets and gizmos, all carefully thought out. For example, not just the garage door but also the gate in the fence were electrically-operated, so you could drive straight off and close everything up by remote control without stopping.
(A house-hunting friend writes)

More here, and links to the rest.

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